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Physical Prototyping and Computing: HCDE 498

University of Washington

June 2014 – August 2014

This project was a quarter long project for HCDE 498 course. It was an individual prototyping project using the Arduino program and system. I created a computer that would signal a light when it sensed mail was placed inside the mailbox. I programed the system and assembled the hardware. I created additional pieces that were added by designing 3D models digitally and printing them with the MakerBot.

Check out my thoughts on this project’s process here at:


The Process

Week One & Two:

In week one and two of the quarter, we focused on learning on how to code and hard wire programs for the Arduino. To help familiarize ourselves with this type of prototyping, we were assigned to assemble and code a pre-existing model of a bike-computer, which calculated the speed of the bike, the current temperature, and time. Here are a few images of the hardware below. These first couple weeks also involved brainstorming for final project ideas, which was very difficult for me.

photo 1   photo 2   photo


Week Three:

After brainstorming, we submitted an initial project proposal and plan. This posed many problems for me because I was still unaware what my capabilities I had working with the Arduino. Additionally, being that this was the first time I did any physical prototyping, I was restricted by my limited knowledge of the different sensors and potential the Arduino has. I resorted in an idea, which solved a current and trivial issues I had with my apartment’s mailbox.

See this week’s deliverable here:       Project Proposal


Week Four – Eight:

This whole time was working on building our prototype. The weekly progress of the project during this period can be found in the blog link listed above.


Week Nine:

In the final week of the course, we wrapped up course, and I finished my prototype. We had a public showing of our prototypes during the last class where we were able to explain and present our creations.

Here is my final project report:     Final Report

And a video of it in action!